suzanne roslin

The Lady with the Veil, by Alexander Roslin

I have received quite a few messages in the past regarding the painting I keep as my icon. It has prompted me to write a little info on this beautiful masterpiece. The painting in question is named La Dame au voile’ (‘The Lady with the Veil’) and was created in 1768. It is a piece that just screams ‘mysterious,’ which I just love so much.

The artist was a Swedish portrait painter named Alexander Roslin (1718-1793) who would eventually earn his fame in France. The model to this piece, which is considered Roslin’s most well-known by far, is in fact his wife; Marie-Suzanne Giroust (1734-1772). Giroust was an artist herself, a pastel painter to be exact. She was held in high regard for her work, having been a member (along with her husband) of the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture (the French Art Academy). Her husband once said she was a more skilled pastel painter than himself.

The painting became an instant success. The atmosphere is fashionable and tempting, yet retains secrecy and mystery. Symbolism is included, such as the fan she uses to stroke her cheek and her Bolognese dress. Fans were often used as ways of sending discreet messages with the way they were held, opened, or closed. Paired with a mischievous smile, it is difficult not to be entranced by this sphinx-like woman.

Alexander Roslin, The Lady with a Fan (The Artist’s Wife), 1768, oil on canvas, 65 x 54 cm, Nationalmuseum, Stockholm. Source

Here is Marie-Suzanne Giroust looking super coy and sexy in a portrait painted by her Swedish husband. Madame Roslin was also an artist in her own right, working mainly with oils and pastels.

The Artist and his Wife, Marie Suzanne Giroust, Who Is Painting the Portrait of Henrik Wilhelm Peill
Alexander Roslin (Swedish; 1718–1793)
Oil on canvas
Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, Sweden

“Self-Portrait with his Wife Marie-Suzanne Giroust painting Henry Wilhelm Peills’s portrait” (1767) (detail) by Alexander Roslin (1718-1793).